The term explication comes from the French for "explanation." Explication refers to an analysis of a text that attempts to explain what the text means, as well as explain any use of literacy devices and the structures of the text.
When someone attempts to explicate a text, there is a focus on the structures of the text-the plot, setting, point of view, characters. There is also a focus on the literary devices and language used by the author-connotation of words, figures of speech, tone, imagery, etc. Literary scholars or students of literature often explicate texts and look for how the author is using literary devices and structures to make meaning.
Here is the last stanza of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," and a possible explication.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The speaker in the poem uses the word "sigh" to signify possible future regret for the decision that he made when faced with two paths. While the poem focuses on two physical paths-roads diverging in a "yellow wood," the speaker is alluding to metaphorical paths-two possible choices that will alter the course of his life.
The speaker states that he "took the one less traveled by," which means that he chose the less popular path. The hesitation in the speaker ("and I-I took the one less traveled by") also denotes the possibility that he will regret his choice. The final line of the poem, "And that has made all the difference" is vague. The word "difference" can carry a positive or negative connotation. The poet deliberately leaves the reader with an ambiguity-was the difference positive or negative. Regardless, what the poet, through the speaker's description of the two roads, is attempting to convey is that the decision was monumental.
Literary Terms Examples